If the recent New Yorker article has you paralyzed regarding a predicted mega earthquake and tsunami in the Puget Sound region, take a deep breath and consider practical steps you and your household can take now to be better prepared should the “really big one” hit anytime soon.
During any large disaster, fire, law enforcement, utility, and other responders across the region coordinate their efforts to reach people in need and restore essential services as quickly as possible, according to the King County emergency news website.
Emergency management agencies have developed regional disaster plans for dealing with earthquakes, tsunamis, severe winter storms, and other hazards that threaten our region.
Officials test those plans regularly to identify in gaps in our ability to respond quickly and effectively.
There are protocols in place for elected officials to proclaim a state of emergency and request state and federal resources to be brought in to impacted areas.
American Red Cross and other organizations work closely with emergency managers to establish shelters and other resources for residents in need.
Emergency Alert System (EAS) and other notification services are in place to alert you to life-safety situations and appropriate actions you should take.
However, following a large earthquake, communication lines, roads, water, gas, and electricity may not be accessible for weeks, or longer. So, you need to be personally prepared to be self-sufficient and on your own for 10-plus days.
Ways you can prepare and stay safe
1. Prepare for earthquakes in advance (and secure greater peace of mind) by:
Making a plan for how you will communicate and where you will meet if separated. Practice your plan at least annually.
Building emergency kits for your home and vehicle. If finances are tight, start small and add supplies as you are able, or band together with a neighbor to share resources.
Helping each other by knowing your neighbors, their special needs, and available community resources.
2. When the ground begins to shake, “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” until the shaking stops. Do this during any aftershocks that are likely to follow.
3. Register for regional alerts. A Regional Public Information & Notification (RPIN) system is in place to keep you informed of emergency situations and actions you should take to remain safe and informed. This free service sends text messages to your cell phone, landline, and email account.
As uncomfortable as it might be, we need to have these conversations. Surviving an earthquake, or any other serious disaster, takes all of us doing our part to plan ahead, update and practice those plans, and helping those around us stay safe and secure. This is one “to do” item you don’t want to put off.